2009 Cayenne New Car Test Drive
When the Porsche Cayenne was launched five years ago enthusiasts cried blasphemy. Porsche should not build sport-utilities, they said, Porsche should build sports cars. But buyers won the vote. Cayenne had what they needed in a five-passenger SUV: more cargo space than a sedan, off-highway capability, and impressive towing capacity. They found the Cayenne technologically advanced and remarkably fast, as Porsches are supposed to be. So, buyers wondered, why all the hand wringing?
Cayenne's balance of style, performance, and sport-utility virtues were compelling, and it quickly became a success story for the small manufacturer of legendary sports cars. When Porsche launched Cayenne as a 2003 model, executives said they hoped to sell 20,000 of the SUVs a year. Clearly, these projections were conservative. In some years Porsche sold more than 50,000 Cayennes. More than 150,000 have been sold in the past four years. Following a redesign for 2008, sales have again increased, making the Cayenne a boon for Porsche's financial planning. Cayenne's ongoing success smoothes over wildly fluctuating sports car sales, which tend to follow the consumer confidence index. Cayenne's success is helping Porsche do what enthusiasts want: develop and build great sports cars and a new four-door sport sedan. Enough hand-wringing already.
For 2009, Porsche has returned the Turbo S version and announced the 2010 Transsyberia Cayenne that goes on sale in Spring of 2009; the Cayenne GTS formally debuted late in 2008. With major advancements made for the 2008 model year, the 2009 primarily adds more extreme examples.
Grabbing headlines is the 2009 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, boasting 550 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque from its twin-turbocharged 4.8-liter V8 and capable of propelling this SUV from 0-60 mph in just 4.7 seconds. It's the fastest Cayenne and most expensive, almost 2.8 times the price of a base Cayenne.
Although it isn't as fast as a Cayenne Turbo, the GTS is the most agile and lithe, with all the suspension tricks of the Turbos, huge tires and wheels, big brakes, and 300 pounds less weight to haul around. The GTS is the only Cayenne V8 offering a choice of manual or automatic transmissions.
We find any Porsche Cayenne enjoyable to drive, smooth, stable, and responsive. It inspires confidence and we felt comfortable driving it right to and beyond grip levels on a gravel road. It's easy to control and predictable and always behaves as expected.
The 2009 Porsche Cayenne lineup features five models: Cayenne ($44,600), Cayenne S ($59,400), Cayenne GTS ($70,900), Cayenne Turbo ($97,700), Cayenne Turbo S ($123,600). Also available will be the 2010 Cayenne S Transsyberia. All models come standard with full-time four-wheel drive (high and low range gearing). The Cayenne V6 and GTS come with a six-speed manual and six-speed automatic optional; all others are six-speed automatics.
Cayenne comes with a 3.6-liter V6 (290 hp, 273 pound-feet of torque). Leather seating with 12-way power adjustment comes standard, along with titanium-look interior trim; manually controlled climate control with charcoal and micro-particle cabin filtration; heated folding exterior mirrors; multi-function trip computer; 12-speaker stereo with CD; air conditioned glove compartment; cruise control; insulated laminated privacy glass; Homelink; immobilizer anti-theft alarm; and an electronically latching power tailgate.
Cayenne S gets a 4.8-liter V8 (385 hp and 369 lb-ft) and 18-inch wheels. Cayenne S adds automatic climate control with dual front-passenger settings and a 350-watt, 14-speaker Bose stereo.
Cayenne GTS spins the 4.8-liter V8 up to 405 hp and adds shorter gearing, lower-ride-height air suspension with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), big brakes, 21-inch wheels with 295/35 tires, power tilt/telescope wheel, sport seats front and rear with Alcantara inserts, more aggressive bodywork and light-tube front signal/marker lamps.
Cayenne Turbo features a twin-turbocharged version of the V8 (500 hp and 516 lb-ft). The Turbo comes standard with an adjustable air suspension with PASM, heated front and rear seats, and park-assist radar warning front and rear. It's equipped with Porsche Communications Management (PCM), a GPS navigation system with integrated telephone and audio controls, and headlights that turn with the steering wheel.
Cayenne Turbo S bumps power to 550 hp and 553 lb-ft and adds Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (active suspension), ceramic composite brakes, 21-inch wheels, and most luxury amenities.
Options are extensive with fewer available as the base price increases, but even Turbos offer plenty of them. In Porsche fashion you can order seatbelts and gauge faces in matching or complementary colors, sport seats and bodywork upgrades, leathers and interior finishes (aluminum, carbon, wood), choose from multiple steering wheels, add chassis controls and larger wheels, painted wheels and crest logos, get laminated side glass or four-zone climate control, plus more generic items like park warning sensors, a tow hitch and keyless open and start.
Porsche options can be pricey ($750 for XM radio) and unending. Even without using any exclusive factory customizing options, which are virtually limitless, it's none-too-difficult to add a third of the base price in options or run a $60,000 Cayenne S into six digits.
Safety features on all models include electronic stability control, traction control, antilock brakes with off-road capability, trailer stability control, and full-time four-wheel drive. Six airbags come standard: dual-stage front and side-impact airbags for front passengers, and curtain-style head protection airbags on both sides of the cabin. All five seating positions have three-point belts with pretensioners to instantly tighten them and limit stretching on impact. The front belts also have automatic force limiters, reducing potential for belt-related injuries.